News International brings US lawyer to run UK and Europe

News International is importing a US lawyer to head up the group's commercial legal affairs in UK and Europe.

Jay Itzkowitz, senior vice-president and associate general counsel of News America, senior vice-president, legal affairs of Fox Television and senior vice-president, legal affairs of Fox Entertainment, begins his role as director of legal affairs for News International on 15 September.

He is replacing Bruce McWilliam, former general counsel at News International.

McWilliam became a partner in the company's e-partners project, a u400m venture capital fund which will be used to promote new media and the internet, in June this year.

Commenting on his transatlantic transfer, Itzkowitz says: “Rupert [Murdoch] asked me to do it.

“When Rupert asks you to do something you don't say 'sorry I'm not going to do it'.”

He adds: “When Bruce moved to the e-partners job Rupert wanted someone who felt comfortable working in Europe.”

For commercial issues, McWilliam says News International currently uses Allen & Overy in the UK, German firm Oppenhoff & Radler and two small Italian practices.

And McWilliam does not expect the panel to change once Itzkowitz takes over as director.

In his role as director of legal affairs, Itzkowitz will handle all commercial deals at News International including buying up other TV companies throughout Europe.

He will also deal with any commercial transactions involving News International's printed media, but he says: “I will be trying not to interfere in things like libel.”

He says his appointment is an indication that News International's parent company, News Corporation, is focusing on European television: “This is the first stage of a serious focus on finally really getting into TV in Europe, not just in the UK.”

Itzkowitz will retain his roles as senior vice-president of legal affairs for Fox Television and senior vice-president, legal affairs for Fox Entertainment in the US, where he has worked since 1992.